Following on

Two years ago today we said good-bye to our sweet Rissa.

Since January I have been reliving that last battle, remembering and crying and praying. Though each memory brings fresh pain, she is in every part of my living. I could not forget her beauty, her laughter, her love, her courage, her faith.

But today we remember her good-bye.

My oldest daughter was due with her first child this week. We wondered if maybe God would bring her little son on March 6, the anniversary of Marissa’s home-going. We thought it might bring a happy remembrance to this week of sober reflection. Instead, her pregnancy has been filled with difficulty–cord anomalies, excess amniotic fluid, preterm labor at 22 weeks, complete bed rest, a c-section on March 3 because of labor that failed to progress, and a life-threatening birth defect detected just a few hours after the baby’s birth. Ambulance rides and NICU and medical tests for possible related issues. Invasive surgery at 2 days old, intubation, and lots of uncertainty. A world of unknowns.

This is not what we thought God was doing. This is not what we thought He would do.

There was some middle-of-the-night faith struggle. Some wrestling.

But mostly I have felt peace and the nearness of God. My faith stretching. This beautiful, tiny boy is ours. And my daughter and son-in-law have been gifted with a radiant grace. I weep to think of it.

Not long ago, after an ordination service at our church, I had a picture come to my mind. A picture of each trial coming to us in solemn ceremony. A parcel handed over. A charge given. Prayer and laying on of hands.

Each trial a responsibility. A burden. But also a privilege. A trust.

And I think of my Rissa Bean, accepting her package with joy. Faithfully fulfilling her charge. Walking her path with courage.

Maintaining a real and gritty faith through all of it.

How can I do less?

So I am reaching out for all my packages. I am accepting all of the ways God will use them. I am considering it joy and a privilege to do the work He created for me. The work for which I was created.

I am following on.

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away, too?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:67-68

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

March 6, 2017:

March 6, 2018: